Stress is everyone’s worst enemy. We all know how bad it is for us and its unhealthy side effects. I’ve read a plethora of blogs on how to de-stress, and spend a great deal of time in my practice helping my clients relax. What my research tells me is relaxing doesn’t come easy for a lot of people. It’s not as simple as, “Okay, it’s time to relax.”
I believe that stress thrives in your head and manifests in your body. When we can’t turn off our mind, then we continue to think too much, worry, stress out, and fret over whatever it is that is bothering us. Then, perhaps our shoulders and upper back tense up. We notice when we are stressed by the signals our body shows us: tight muscles, headaches, insomnia, poor diet, dehydration, indigestion, etc.
For the most part, we know when we are stressed out. It’s doing something about it that is challenging.
How does one get outside of their head? How do we turn the stress button to “off” (or at least “pause”) for a little while?
Here’s a brief list that will get you moving towards tranquility:
Spending time in the great outdoors does wonders on taking your mind off of things. From something simple as taking a walk outside your doorsteps to visiting a local park to hiking/camping. There’s something magical about listening to the delicate sounds of birds chirping and spotting out wildlife that brings you into the present moment and away from your troubles.
Get out of your head and into your body! So many ways to move your body: walk, jog, stretch, yoga, swim, jumprope, and bike, to name a few. Just a few minutes of gentle movement is beneficial to connect to yourself, move stagnant energy, and notice what bodily sensations arise.
Take time to enjoy the company of your close friends and family. Schedule lunch with a friend to break up the work week and get your mind on something else. Social outings connect you with a broader picture of life and keeps things in perspective. Plus, it can be a good stress-reliever to share your troubles with a trusted companion.
Four-legged furry creatures bring so much joy! If you don’t have any pets, then take a trip to the local pet shelter or dog park. Most will agree that puppies and kittens are full of energy and fun to play with. No wonder they have “emotional support” labels for pets!
Reading is another way to take a break from our troubles. Take a trip to your library and check out what’s new out or spend time looking through the magazine section. You’ll be surprised by what you find.
If you’re into pampering yourself with personal treatments, then check yourself into a spa for the day. Heck, even a one hour massage can do the trick! Sounds so lovely just thinking about it! You can even get crafty and enjoy spa time at your home with an epsom salt (they even have a “relax” scent) bath soak, self massage with a foam roller or lacrosse ball, and even a quiet meditation with cucumbers over your eyes.
What better way to bring you out of your mind and into the now, than playing with paints, chalks, ceramics, clay, you name it. Use your art activity to stay present and not get caught up in goal oriented behavior. Flax is a great store to get you started with all the art supplies you could ever need. Pinterest is a great way to get ideas or you could take an art class at your local community college. The sky’s the limit!
One of the best ways to learn mindfulness is in the kitchen. Find a recipe that piques your fancy, and learn how to prepare the dish. And when you are ready for clean up, do so mindfully. Meditation centers often give the homework assignment to practice staying in the moment when washing the dishes. Try it and see if you can stay with the task, moment to moment.
Our olfactory senses can be a direct line to our sympathetic nervous system (the relaxation part of the brain). Pick a calming scent to use in your diffuser and turn that bad boy on in your bathroom and you’ll get a treat every time you go to the restroom. A quick jolt to serenity!
There are many great herbal teas on the market that are targeted to de-stress. My favorite is the Tulsi line, but I also enjoy chamomile, ginger/lemon, and rooibos. Remember to stick to anything non-caffeinated. Drink your tea in silence, perhaps adding a few minutes of a quiet meditation.
As you might start to notice, we are distracting the mind by tapping into the five senses. Even if you dont have a favorite music singer, you can tell Alexa to play music and a playlist is picked out for you! Music is a mood enhancer, and why not add a little dancing while you are at it.
I think you’ll agree that when you get outside of our head, you can feel more relaxed and calm. I believe the body is the missing link in reducing stress. When we become aware of our body, then we can learn to regulate more easier. Through some of the suggestions listed above – you can sense the body a little bit better, and help the body regulate the mind a little bit better.